Posts Tagged ‘peaches’

A Weekend Escape to Niagara Falls, The Good Earth and a Really Nice Hat

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011
Just catching up after a nice weekend away in Niagara Falls.
Living in Toronto, we’ve been many times and each season has it’s perks. The mist is cool in the summer, the icicles are stunning in the winter, Niagara Parks plants amazing gardens in the Spring.

In Autumn it’s the gorgeous colours in the changing trees and bright bright sunny days. Take that sun combine it with ample mist and you get perfect double rainbows!

Our friend Sarah made Rebecca her hat from a pattern I wore as a child.  The wool is from a wool share (like a wool CSA) from  Stoddart Farms.   It’s the neatest program where you get eco friendly dyed wool from endangered and rare sheep and goats delivered to you every month.  We discovered them at last year’s Royal Winter Fair and it makes an awesome christmas present for the knitters and crocheters in your life.

I love the localness of her little hat and that she looks like a unicorn with the double rainbow.

It was all a little much for little Ms Fancy Hat and her epic nap strike ended in a cloud of mist with a bang. 3 hours! We went for a coffee.

So Niagara Falls is fun but it can be a little over the top.  The gorgeous falls and park are almost lost to the Capital Letters TOURISM!  The separation of the city of Niagara Falls and the surrounding “fruit basket of Ontario” has always been so strange to me. The subdivisions all have names like “Orchard Grove” yet finding a fruit or vegetable on your plate, let alone a local one is next to impossible.  So after a few helpful tweets we escaped to the surrounding wine and orchard country and had a blast. And a proper serving of vegetables.

The Good Earth Food and Wine Company in Beamsville, Ontario was recommended by Eating Niagara as a good place to run around and grab some lunch.  What a perfect suggestion.

We started with some peach orchard cuddles.

Then we had a good run.  She really wanted to pick fruit and couldn’t figure out where it had gone. I guess all that apple picking left an impression.

So she inspected ALL the leaves.

And then did a little dance.

We moved inside for lunch but didn’t get a single photo of our food. It was beautiful but clearly too delicious to photograph.  Ryan and Rebecca shared some duck, I had the best cauliflower soup I’ve ever tasted.  The salad had carrot spirals that went on for miles.  The wine was delicious.  The atmosphere was friendly and charming.  The two year was welcomed with a taste of local honey from neighbours Rosewood Estates and peach preserves.  We couldn’t have asked for anything more lovely.

After lunch we poked around.

There was lots of fun food and fork related art.

Ryan is inspired and determined that some day we’ll have a whole building to cook in.  This has got to be the most perfect set up for group canning projects or pressing cider.

Their kitchen side herb gardens are still going strong and Rebecca got into the grapes.

Rebecca spent about an hour looking cute in her new barrette from paperdollaccessories while admiring and eating grapes off the vine before moving on to the pumpkins.

We picked out some wine, honey and jam to bring home and enjoyed the drive back on the back roads stopping for our groceries from road side farms stands.

Amazing. Rebecca even had another nap.

Smashed BBQ Peach Jam

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011
When life hands you smashed up peaches and all your burners are in use for canning, its time to make Peach – vanilla – honey jam on the BBQ.
As mentioned in last week’s post about our peach canning odyssey, I am never ever peeling another peach.
All pealing peaches does is take perfect lovely wonderful peaches like these…
 and waste your time blanching, plunging…
only to end up having them go to total smashed up mush when you go to cut them.
It was so terribly sad that I’ll show you this lovely picture of pre-smashed peeled peaches as I did not take one of the carnage.
I do pretty much all of our cooking out on the deck in the warmer months.  Our kitchen is small and the deck has much better light.  It also has the Barbecue.
Which is nice when you have a bunch of rapidly browning peaches, a full freezer, and no free burner on the stove as you are in the middle of canning a @#&*^@#! bushel of peaches.
The main danger of bbqed jam is that the wasps go crazy. As you can see I left the peaches pretty chunky.
Peaches are pretty high in pectin and set into jam quite nicely without adding very much extra sugar. Almost all  fruit is also considered high acid so you don’t need to be all that careful with your recipe like some other things (like tomatoes, or green beans).  

I simply added a little lemon juice to prevent browning and keep that acid level high, a teaspoon of vanilla, a cup of honey and a cup of organic white sugar, which was really an accident as I forgot we still had some of this wonderful honey. The ratio was around 25% sugar/honey and 75% fruit.  

I had been taught that jam needed to be 40% sugar-60% fruit but recently found out from a canning class at the local Mennonite Church that wasn’t true.  As long as it’s high acid fruit and there’s enough naturally occurring pectin, the amount of sugar is purely dependant on taste.
Volia! A near disaster prevented! Delicious jam, slow cooked outside for the neighbours to smell. 
Some final notes: It took about an hour to set, then I jared it up and put in the already going waterbath for ten minutes.